Released in 2009, the Leica M9 was one of the first full frame cameras in the world. So is the Leica M9 still worth it? In this article I will outline the pros and cons of getting and M9 in this day and age.

Is the Leica M9 still worth it? Table Of Contents

Out of all the Leica M cameras, none is as enduring as the Leica M9 when it comes to digital. There’s a few really good reasons why many photographers consider the Leica M9 still worth it.

Why the Leica M9 still worth it

leica m9 camera

Unlike the previous M8 which had many quirks, the M9 is pretty straightforward. It is a full frame digital rangefinder and quite frankly a real beast that is hard to put down. Here’s why the Leica M9 still worth it.

1. Still shoots just as good as day one

One thing that must be said before getting into the specifics of the Leica M9 still being worth it is…just because a new camera comes out and supersedes it doesn’t automatically make that camera bad. The Leica M9 has and always will have great image quality even if there’s the newer models with way more megapixels and a few other tricks up their sleeves.

leica m9 sample image 1
Leica M9 image sample [1]

2. The price

The Leica M9 is one of the cheapest Leica M cameras you can get. Well you can get the M8 but not only is it prone to issues but it is also the only Leica that is not full frame so if you want a full frame M, the cheapest option is the M9. So if you are on a budget and wondering if the Leica M9 still worth it, it is.

leica m9 sample image 2

3. Ultimate simplicity

All Leica Ms thrive on simplicity and the Leica M9 even more. The menu system is one of the simplest you can find and there aren’t many settings to get lost in. After the M9 Leica will experiment with video so all of that will start taking away from said minimalism. There’s no live view, no unneeded extras: with the M9 it’s just you and your images and it’s quite the experience.

leica m9 sample image 3

4. That unique look

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Images like these are proof the Leica M9 is still worth it [9]

If you needed the SINGLE, biggest reason why the Leica M9 still worth it, this is it. The Leica M9 has a full frame sensor, and has great image quality as you can expect. Now there is also something that makes the M9 still worth it to this day. It’s the special look that it has. To be fair under some conditions you’ll never pick an image shot with the M9 vs the later M240 but for a lot of images the Leica M9 look is real. That look is so unique that there’s even Leica presets that try to replicate it.

Leica M9 look
If the Leica M9 still worth it? CMOS vs CCD

The magic is because of the CCD sensor, later models will have CMOS sensors leaving only the M8 and M9 with CCD sensors therefore making the M9 unique only as the full frame CCD Leica M. There’s something about the look of the M9 that is more organic, more real. It feels less digital and more natural and it’s something that makes the Leica M9 still worth it to this day. Other Leicas have CMOS sensors and it’s simply not the same thing, especially when you shoot portaits, the skintones are beautiful out of the gate with the M9.

Leica poster M9 sketch
So enduring the Leica M9 has a dedicated poster, more here

Two negatives you need to know about

The answer to is the Leica M9 still worth it is a resounding yes. But you also need to temper this with two issues, one major and one minor.

1. The low light issue

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Leica M9 low light quality [6]

The Leica M9 is one great camera, but not for low light. While the camera can technically go way beyond this the maximum recommended ISO before things start becoming grainy is ISO800. This shouldn’t be too much a problem if you have fast lenses but if you don’t above ISO800 the quality really takes a hit.

leica m9 sample image 4

2. That ancient LCD

The other minor reason against an M9 is the retro LCD. If you can remember how crappy cell phone screens used to be back in the day, well this has a 230k dots LCD, for comparison modern cameras have screen resolutions in the millions. It’s quite jarring but like I said this is minor because it’s the final images that count, you can simply use the LCD for a quick review that you got the shot.

WARNING: Don’t get the M9s that don’t have this

If you are reading this article about if the Leica M9 still worth it and want to get it right away, you must make sure to get the right one or you are in for a nasty surprise. If you do not get the upgraded sensor version, you’ll start seeing worm-like things develop on your images.

The Leica M9 had a design flaw that caused sensor corrosion. It had to be replaced during it’s lifespan when customers started complaining about the issue. That is why if you buy an M9 you specifically have to ask if this was the upgraded sensor. Because the sensor isn’t replaced it’s only a matter of time until it goes bad.

Leica doesn’t offer CCD replacements anymore and while certain companies will replaced your oxidized ICF for a $1500 fee, making it not worth it at all.

leica m9 sample image 5

The good news is this is a non issue if the sensor is replaced, it will act as normal, but you must make your research before purchasing.


So is the Leica M9 still worth it after all of these years? Absolutely. If you have a fast lens or you don’t mind the poor ISO handling, this is one of the most unique cameras in the world even to this day. It’s the ultimate camera that is purely about photography and allows you to be lost in it, and when it comes to the images themselves there’s simply something about them that makes the Leica M9 a unique camera to shoot and irreplaceable. Click here to launch a price check.

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